Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance, St Mungo’s and MD, Real People

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Helen Giles
Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance, St Mungo’s and MD, Real People
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Helen Giles is executive director of people and governance for St Mungo’s and MD of Real People, an HR consultancy

Since Giles joined the senior team of St Mungo’s in 2014 following a large-scale merger, she has led a major programme of integration and process and cultural transformation. This has contributed to very significant growth in the charity’s services, its income, its reputation and its influence on government in respect of policy affecting homeless people. As well as HR and organisational development she has been responsible for governance and risk management, and oversight of volunteering services bringing 200,000 hours of pro bono support into the charity every year.

St Mungo’s excellence in HR, diversity and organisational development practices has been recognised during 2018 by it being featured on the finalist lists under multiple categories for all the major HR, charity and social housing awards.

Real People, the social enterprise HR consultancy that Giles set up in 2004, is also finalist for several awards this year as consultancy of the year. The first social enterprise of its kind and a pioneer model of resource sharing in HR, it operates from within the HR department of St Mungo’s providing services to many smaller charities and businesses. The vision of the enterprise is to improve the quality of services to disadvantaged people by raising standards of people management. Year on year the consultancy has attracted a customer satisfaction score of 97% to 100%.

Giles' particular areas of interest are organisational development and the promotion of high standards of governance, leadership and performance management in the public and third sectors.

She is also a dedicated advocate of diversity and inclusion. St Mungo’s returned a zero gender pay gap in the first year of reporting, and won the BITC Race Equality Award 2017. She has supported a very effective BAME positive action strategy within St Mungo’s based on building talent from within. This includes personally mentoring BAME staff and junior managers with demonstrated potential for progression.

She has frequently mentored senior HR practitioners who have approached her for advice in achieving HR transformation in public and not-for-profit organisations.

Giles regularly speaks at conferences on both HR and governance topics. She writes a quarterly column on HR for Charity Finance magazine, aimed at influencing senior finance professionals in charities on good practice in people management.

Some career highlights include:

Winner of Personnel Today’s HR Director of the Year award (2008)

Appointed MBE in 2008 for services to homeless people

In 2011 had two Times opinion pieces published on the subject of employment regulation and was interviewed for Radio 4’s Today programme

Featured on HR magazine’s Most Influential Practitioners List regularly since it began in 2005

Listed in HR magazine’s 10 Most Influential Practitioners of the Decade (2015)

Giles' personal interests include eating good food and drinking with friends, her two greyhounds, music of all kinds, reading biography and social history, collecting early 20th century ephemera, and holidays in France and the US.

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Social media handle: @HelenMJGiles

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